Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel: Rubio on Climate Change

May 18, 2014

National Journal:

Miami will likely be underwater before the Senate can muster enough votes to meaningfully confront climate change. And probably Tampa and Charleston, too—two other cities that last week’s National Climate Assessment placed at maximum risk from rising sea levels.

Even as studies proliferate on the dangers of a changing climate, the issue’s underlying politics virtually ensure that Congress will remain paralyzed over it indefinitely. That means the U.S. response for the foreseeable future is likely to come through executive-branch actions, such as the regulations on carbon emissions from power plants that the Environmental Protection Agency is due to propose next month. And that means climate change will likely spike as a point of conflict in the 2016 presidential race.

Much like gun control, climate is an issue that unites Republicans by ideology but divides Democrats by geography. Even if Democrats can build a bigger Senate majority through the next few election cycles—they are positioned to add seats in 2016 even if they lose control in 2014—such gains probably won’t produce the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster against legislation to limit carbon emissions.

The Democrats’ problem is that they cannot build a big Senate majority without winning seats in states heavily dependent on coal, which would suffer the most from limits on carbon. Democrats now hold 21 of the Senate seats in the 19 states that rely on coal to produce a majority of their electricity and half of the seats in the 10 states (some overlapping) that mine the most coal. Resistance from some coal-state Democrats doomed climate legislation in 2009, even when the party controlled 60 Senate seats and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi narrowly muscled a cap-and-trade bill through the House. Senate Democrats such as North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and Indiana’s Joe Donnelly remain equally unenthusiastic today.

Theoretically, those Democratic votes could be replaced by Republican votes from states less reliant on coal. But Republicans face overwhelming ideological pressure to oppose action on climate change and even to reject the scientific consensus that it is occurring, as Sen. Marco Rubio from vulnerable Florida demonstrated in his dismissal of the federal climate report. Republican unity and Democratic division promises a permanent legislative stalemate over climate.



8 Responses to “Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel: Rubio on Climate Change”

  1. If the institution is permantely parazlized – replace it.

  2. Neither politics or capitalism is going to change the world for the better in the face of climate change. Change will come from the ground up, and the skies down. The inevitable, unrelenting pressure of resource depletion and environmental degradation will take its toll. Some progressive vision will lead toward solutions with the slash and burn economics of the past dragging like an anchor.

  3. […] National Journal: Miami will likely be underwater before the Senate can muster enough votes to meaningfully confront climate change. And probably Tampa and Charleston, too—two other cities that last week’s National ClimateAssessment placed at maximum risk from rising sea levels.  […]

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    I will again quote Pogo. “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

    Things are going to have to get a lot worse before they get better. Christopher has got it right with “neither politics nor capitalism….”

    Gilding in The Great Disruption keeps coming back to WW2 as the pre-eminent example of how mankind deals with worldwide crisis—-do little until it’s almost too late, and then massively mobilize and get it done in the nick of time. I’m afraid that we may have waited too long already with AGW, and the deniers and political and capitalist obstructionists are not going to change sides soon enough.

  5. […] 2014/05/18: PSinclair: Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel: Rubio on Climate Change […]

  6. j4zonian Says:

    Maybe part of the answer is to prioritize wind and solar development first where coal is most entrenched, so to speak. Of course that’s where it will be hardest to get permits and support but as constituencies grow for efficiency (the first task of moving to renewables) and wind and solar and dependence on coal declines, the politics may change. Other work will also have to continue, and in the end our survival probably will depend on a peaceful revolution in the US, but this may help prepare the ground and meanwhile, every wind turbine and solar panel erected reduces dependence on fossil fuels.

  7. […] Photos: Spurs vs. Heat, Game 4 Robert Duyos / Sun Sentinel Heat guard Dwyane Wade and forward LeBron James were on the bench by the time the final seconds […]

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